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Tanker managers and owners plan ahead

Wed 08 Feb 2017 by Steve Matthews

Tanker managers and owners plan ahead
Sandip Mirchandani, the seasoned hand recruited to lead Interorient’s new office in Singapore

Despite difficult market conditions, Singapore-based shipmanagers are preparing for future opportunities while meeting client owners’ demands for greater efficiency

A new name on the Singapore shipmanagement scene is Interorient Shipmanagement. Well known elsewhere, the company is headed up by Sandip Mirchandani, a stalwart of shipmanagement. Interorient Shipmanagement set up its Singapore operation in June 2016. This move was in line with Interorient’s diversification away from managing in-house group-owned vessels toward third-party shipmanagement.

Interorient is a 50 per cent partner in the Norient tanker pool. The company is actively promoting its services in Asia, where it was not well known. “We are looking at rapid development of our third-party management, especially for Japanese owners,” Mr Mirchandani said. “There is significant potential in the market – especially following recent changes such as V Group acquiring Selandia and other consolidations – that will open up opportunities for owners looking for new options,” he explained.

Although Interorient Group manages a substantial number of tankers from its offices in Cyprus and Hamburg, the Singapore operation is initially focused on bulk carriers – though options for managing tankers will be considered at some stage. “It is not so easy for tanker owners to switch managers because of the need to satisfy oil major vetting requirements when changing management,” Mr Mirchandani said.

Interorient is focusing on vessels trading in Asia. Mr Mirchandani said “We have sufficient crew to supply a further 10 ships from here, and we are looking at bulk carriers and chemical tankers. We have a good relationship with oil majors.”

MTM Shipmanagement includes 42 tankers among its managed fleet of 64 vessels. Managing director Vijay Rangroo said: “We are open for more ships under management and have the capacity to manage more ships in Singapore.” MTM has four newbuilds under construction for its own account: 30,000 dwt chemical tankers for delivery in 2017 and 2018. “Chemical tankers is our core business, along with dry cargo,” he said.

OSM Ship Management has about 60 ships under full management in Singapore. Although none of them are tankers, business development director Shubpreet Singh said: “Singapore is our global headquarters for shipmanagement. We are trying to add tankers to our managed fleet. We will start off with handysize product tankers. There is a lot of shipmanagement business around, as owners look at options for improved efficiency.”

Leading international shipmanager Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM) is steadily expanding its managed fleet in Singapore, although its primary focus for growth is not tankers. Managing director of BSM Singapore Bob Maxwell said that the fleet managed in Singapore has grown to more than 90 ships, aggregating over 5 million dwt. He explained: “Gas carriers is our main focus for development, including floating storage and regasification units, and small-scale LNG.” Mr Maxwell said that BSM is continuing to focus on operational efficiency in difficult market conditions, and on recruiting, retaining and training high-quality crew. “Compliance issues will continue to be important. There is still some confusion on implementation of requirements for ballast water treatment systems.”

Despite the general slowdown in tanker ordering, some Singapore-based owners are continuing to place orders where they see opportunities in the market. For example, Raffles Shipmanagement, a subsidiary of Wilmar Holdings, recently ordered six 19,700 dwt chemical tankers that have been designed to serve shallow-water ports in South East Asia.

BW Tankers, a subsidiary of BW Group, based in Singapore, is modernising its tanker fleet. BW ordered a pair of very large crude carriers (VLCCs) of 318,000 dwt, scheduled to be delivered in 2018. BW currently operates a VLCC fleet of nine vessels.

BW is a leading owner of product tankers. It has orders for four new LR1 product tankers of 74,300 dwt, for delivery by 2017. The newbuilds feature fuel-efficient MAN G-type engines, further optimised with new propeller designs. BW has also ordered four MR product tankers of 49,500 dwt, due for delivery in 2019 and 2020, and a pair of 19,900 dwt chemical tankers due to be delivered in 2018.

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